In the Grip of the Distant Universe by Graneau and Graneau (publ. 2023-10-07)

I found a few minutes this morning when everyone else in the family was still asleep, so I decided to throw out a book review I had been wanting to post. While trying to do some research into Mach's principle, I found "In the Grip of the Distant Universe: The Science of Inertia" by Peter Graneau and Neal Graneau (ISBN 981-256-754-2). There is so much in the book which challenged my mental paradigm that I think it is worthy of special mention here. Here are some things that stuck out at me:

The book gives a helpful discussion of the history of science from Aristotle to Newton, focusing on the development of empirical action-at-a-distance models, especially gravity and inertia, as opposed to various ether notions. Along the way there is some very interesting history of astronomy, and also the history of Descartes' ether vortices notion in opposition to Newtonian physics.

A major thrust of the book is to advocate for instaneous action-at-a-distance models, as opposed to delayed-action models and modern field theory, which aims to understand everything as the propagation of field effects. So, for example, gravity should be understood as instantaneous attractions between all the masses in the universe, rather than an effect of a propagating wave limited by the speed of light or of gravitons.

Another major thrust is to promote or emphasize the idea that the force of inertia is a "real" force, the one that works against applied forces, in order to moderate acceleration. This is in contrast to General Relativity, which unifies gravity and inertia, and makes them no longer forces, but rather curves in space time. The authors argue against the modern trend to think of inertial forces as fictious or to try to absorb them into field theory.

Quite a few pages are devoted to dismantling Einstein's relativity theories, especially GR, as being ultimately incompatible with the Machian principle, as well as being both unnecessary and likely entirely wrong. Arguments are given to disprove a basic tenent of GR, the equivalence of gravity and inertia forces. Also the various experiments meant to prove GR, as well as the velocity of light, are examined and shown to be either fraudulent science; good measurements that have been misrepresented by supporters of relativity theories; or based on assumptions that are part of the theory being proved, i.e., begging the question or circular reasoning.

There is even some discussion about the weaknesses of Maxwellian theories of electromagnetism, as opposed to the classic laws present by Ampère, Coloumb, and others. The authors briefly put forward some research they did in modeling electromagnetic effects as instantaneous action-at-a-distance forces, and discussed how the supposed velocity of light could be understood as the interaction of action-at-a-distances forces among sources, reflectors, and receivers, overcoming some kind of electromagnetic inertia. I didn't fully understand it all, for sure, but it was a very interesting path of thought to travel down.

The authors advocate for returning to a classical Newtonian understanding of inertia, while augmenting or completing it with the Machian ideas that (1) inertia must be understood in reference to "the fixed stars", i.e., all the matter in the universe, as opposed to Newton's idea of absolute space; and (2) inertia is itself caused by an instanteous interaction between the subject and all other matter in the universe. Related to the first idea there is much interesting discussing about gyroscopes and other technology.

They put forward an equation for those inertial interactions, similar to Newton's equation for gravity. And they put forward a related cosmology. The equation does not work in an infinite, homogenous universe, since the "B" constant would be infinite. But it does work in an infinite universe that has a fractal distribution, more specifically a fractal dimension of slightly less than 2, which is something supported by modern astronomical observations but not yet proven.

So, there is my quick summary of the main ideas in the book. Hopefully I haven't misrepresented the book at all, owing to my weak background in physics. But I think you'll see the book is worth a reading. I must say that the concept of inertia is still a little fuzzy in my mind, but this was a helpful book. And the discussions around relativity and field theory have shaken a lot of my assumptions about modern physics.

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